|:Left: 2001 BEFORE Right: 2013 AFTER|
To truly understand my passion for healthy living, you must understand where it all began. I was an overweight child and teenager but never truly out of control until college. I struggled with weight and self-image for most of my childhood. I was a child of divorce, so food was a way to deal with the pain and loss of my “normal” life. People deal with stress differently and my way is through eating, unfortunately. So, I started off college as most teenagers do, lost and looking for my way. I have an extremely strong relationship with my mother, so leaving was hard but I really enjoyed my time away, growing as a person and finding myself. Unfortunately, that came with weight gain. I was going out with friends, eating too much, drinking and fast food were my best friends, sad but true. I was a size 18, 240 lbs…oh just writing it out, makes me sick. It brings back all of the pain, the shame, the self-worthlessness…all of it. One night I had come home from being out with friends, I stopped in front of my bathroom mirror and just stared. I no longer knew that girl. I looked at myself and wondered why I had done this to myself for so long. I always felt different, always larger than my friends but now it was WAY worse, my weight was out of control. My health was suffering. I was drinking, smoking and eating out at least once a day, sometimes more! Ugh. I stared in that mirror and cried. It was an awful moment for me, but it also changed my life FOREVER.
I decided I needed change in a big way. But where do I begin? I looked for support in my friends and found what I needed almost immediately. I had some friends that were extremely healthy, boys who went to the gym every day, stayed active, didn’t smoke, watched what they ate…all of it. This is what I needed! So, I asked. They were MORE than willing to help me; they knew I was lost and wanted help. It started with a trip to the gym. I was embarrassed, felt so insecure, especially standing next to all of these guys who were in the best shape ever. But I did it anyway, jumped on the machine and they guided me through my first workout…who knew that ONE trip to the gym, would change my life forever!
The next day I woke up so sore, aching and starving too! I needed help with my diet, it was all off track, out of control and contained WAY more food than one person should eat in a day, that’s for sure. They agreed to cook with me, teach me how to cook healthy, eat at home and enjoy it. It was so eye-opening. Without their support, who knows where I’d be. I lost 8 lbs in ONE WEEK. Yes, one week! I was beyond thrilled. I felt better, had more energy and had officially started my weight loss journey! The weight loss continued from there. It took me six months to lose over 70lbs! I was a new person. Happy, confident and I had found a new love for exercise and nutrition! I pretty much went from one extreme to the other and boy, did it feel good!
At this point in my life, I was a sophomore in college studying journalism. When I started to understand nutrition and healthy eating, I started to research more, wanted to find out more and more. So, I changed my major from Journalism to Health. Wow, what a change! With my workouts, came meeting new friends at the gym. It was great because they had the same goals and health was a large part of their lives so it kept me focused and motivated. I was asked to teach aerobics for the gym and to share my weight loss story with members. I was SO excited. I started teaching Step Aerobics and Body Pump and LOVED every second. As I transformed my life, I felt a happiness like I had never felt before. All those years as a child, struggling to fit in and using my humor as a way to distract others from my physical appearance. See, I never struggled with bullying or teasing, because I was funny. I made people laugh, I was “popular”, and that’s how I stayed away from being teased in school. I still felt completely helpless, even with all of those “friends”. I felt lonely and not comfortable in my own skin. Now that I had changed my life, I was beginning to feel like I had wanted to feel my entire life. It was amazing!
I eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Health Education. I wanted to share my enthusiasm for healthy living with people everywhere! I wanted to help by sharing my passion and my story to help motivate others who were “stuck” like me. Who couldn’t find their way. My grandparents had always worried about me and my weight. The look on their faces when I reached my goal was something I’ll never forget. They were SO proud. It felt better than losing the weight. They were happy that they didn’t have to worry about their unhealthy granddaughter any longer. I will never forget that moment when my grandfather said, “Marissa, you look amazing…I am so proud of you!”…he passed away in 2001 and I’ll still never forget those words.
I worked in cardiac rehab for a while, helping develop nutrition plans and exercise routines for heart patients. It was a very fulfilling job for me, especially since my grandmother had been diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure not long before. I felt in some way, I was helping her too. Then I wanted to help MORE, so I went for my teacher certification in health and physical education. I taught P.E. and really connected with the children, helping them understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle and I was able to share my story with those that struggled with weight and really change their lives. That feeling is like NO other.
These days, I have kept the 75lbs off for 10 years…yes, 10 years! WOOHOO! I have gained 10 lbs here and there, but NEVER gone back to that dark place. I am constantly reminded of how happy my life is and how I wanted to represent a healthy lifestyle for my husband and children too! My four year old already sees our examples and hopefully he will want to lead a healthy lifestyle too! My husband recently found his new way of healthy living, and we want to grow and raise a healthy family together! My passion is being with my family but I will never lose sight of wanting to help others lose weight and maintain a healthy way of living. That is why I created my blog, Lets Move It Mommas; as a support system for busy mom’s that need support. I hope that this blog serves as that support they are looking for from day to day. It’s what I set out to do years ago and I will continue to do it for years to come. I hope my story has inspired you or at least made you think…it’s nice to go back and see where it all began. It serves as a daily motivation for me and always will. I don’t know that unhealthy girl any more, I am a strong healthy woman who struggles with weight every day and continues to find that balance for myself and my family! Thank you for allowing me to share my weight loss story J